Provision and use of face coverings at ANU (all campuses)

On this page you can find advice relating to the use and/or provision of face coverings at all ANU campuses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This advice is current as at Wednesday 2 September 2020. Updates to this advice will be published on this page.


The wearing of face masks (or face coverings such as a scarf) for prevention of transmission of COVID-19 has been recommended or even mandated in areas where community transmission has been proven to be significant, such as in Melbourne.

At present, community transmission in the ACT is low or non-existent. The wearing of masks or face coverings on a full-time basis on campus is not required but the University supports any individuals who choose to provide and wear their own. The wearing of a face covering is only one element of COVID Safe behaviour and is not an excuse to disregard any other processes already in place. All individuals, regardless of whether a mask is worn or not, should continue to:

  • Stay home if unwell; 
  • Ensure appropriate social/physical distancing of 1.5 metres at all times; 
  • Ensure appropriate hygiene measures are in place including washing hands regularly with soap and water and using hand sanitiser in each building upon entering; and  
  • Wipe down high touch areas of use including when using kitchen facilities, classrooms or workstation areas. 

What is the purpose and potential benefit of wearing a mask or face covering? 

There is evidence that a person with COVID-19 can infect others before they have symptoms of being unwell.  This means that a person may spread the virus to others before they know they are sick.  This is why it is very important to follow COVID Safe practices even when well. In some circumstances, there may also be benefit in wearing a face covering, particularly in areas where a moderate amount of community transition has been detected.  Cloth face masks (or even a scarf) used by community members may be beneficial in preventing the wearer unknowingly infecting others - this is called "source control".  

Is wearing a mask or face covering required in the ACT? 

As at Wednesday 2 September 2020, neither ACT Health or Comcare have mandated a requirement for masks to be worn in public areas and in the workplace. In all cases, the primary focus should be ensuring social/physical distancing, one person per four square metre rule (1.5 metres apart), hygiene and regular cleaning. 

Will the ANU provide masks or face coverings to any staff, students or visitors?

In the event of any diagnosed cases on campus, or where an onsite residential student becomes unwell, the University has access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for these individuals and supporting personnel.  The supply of this PPE will be used for this purpose only. 

Face masks and/or other relevant PPE will continue to be provided for areas that relate to specific tasks in research or maintenance areas per existing arrangements (not COVID related).  Your supervisor will have already provided you with this information on specific arrangements. 

What if I cannot undertake appropriate social distancing in a laboratory? 

In the first instance, occupancy in these spaces must be managed to ensure appropriate social distancing.   

In the event that this cannot be undertaken: 

  • Ensure close contact (less than 1.5m) with someone is kept to less than 15 minutes and use any other possible controls to minimise close contacts; 
  • All students must provide and wear their own mask.  Properly fitted cloth masks are acceptable; 
  • Staff (the lead) working in the laboratory where social distancing with students cannot be undertaken, will be provided with an initial supply of washable face masks to be worn in these circumstances. The University has procured these masks with delivery expected the week of 10 August 2020.  If alternate working arrangements cannot be undertaken before this date, please seek advice from your supervisor for access to a small supply of disposable masks.  Individuals are also welcome to provide and maintain their own mask if they feel more comfortable doing so. 
  • The area 'lead' should ensure all individuals undertake additional hygiene measures before and leaving the laboratory including confirming that they: 
    • Are well, are not awaiting a COVID test result and have not recently been diagnosed with COVID; and 
    • Have not come into close contact with individuals who have been in a region where community transmission has occurred.   

If individuals do not meet any of these criteria, they should notify their supervisor prior to attending and your session may be rescheduled.   

What if I work in a healthcare facility?

There are separate arrangements you will need to follow for each facility.  Please ensure you follow the ACT health advice (or appropriate State or Territory health advice) for appropriate and up to date regulations. In the ACT, please follow:

What if I cannot undertake appropriate social distancing in my office or workstation?

Please discuss your concerns with your immediate supervisor to discuss alternate workstation setup or flexible working from home arrangements

What if I am a high-risk individual? 

Please follow the advice of your medical practitioner or specialist. You are welcome to wear your own mask at any time while on campus. Please speak with your supervisor about flexible working arrangements.  

How do I wear a mask or face covering if I choose to? 

For people who choose to wear a mask it is, it is important to wear it properly for the full benefits:  

  • Wash or sanitise your hands before putting it on or taking it off; 
  • Make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face; 
  • Do not touch the front of your mask while wearing or removing it; 
  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose; and 
  • Do not reuse single use masks; wash and dry reusable masks daily and store in a clean dry place.